What is the solution to spinsterhood?
By: Abdul Adheem al-Muhtadi al-Bahrani
Question: The phenomenon of spinsterhood in Muslim countries is painful and full of grief. In Egypt for example, statistics confirm that there are three million and eight hundred thousand unmarried girls who are past thirty years in age.
Studies attribute this matter to the excessive dowries and high costs of marriage besides that there are a great number of girls who are afraid of marriage itself.
Ahmad Rif’at, a member of the Royal Society of Psychological Diseases in Britain, says that the reasons for spinsterhood are due to the competition between men and women in the field of work after the competition has been limited to men for many years. Woman now wants to prove her existence in the practical fields before she wants to participate with a man in marital life; therefore her marriage becomes delayed and marriage opportunities also decrease.
The Egyptian doctor Mahmood Abdurrahman, a specialist in psychological medicine, thinks that the reasons behind the delay in marriage are due to the conditions girls or their families make (such as excessive dowries, the number of rooms in the future house, the job of the husband, and even his shape), and also the conditions men make (such as the age of the girl and a restriction that she must not have been engaged or married before).
Dr. Muna Jad, the dean of the College of Kindergartens in Cairo, says that the problem appears due to contradictions in which the youth live that have placed the youth in a state of being torn apart and feeling unstable and unsafe. The youth live in an atmosphere of imaginary wealth like they see in some foreign films and serials. They wish to live in those societies, but unfortunately they only see the outward characteristics of those societies and not the actual characteristics there. They see the good things only and not the bad things of those societies.
Dr. Muna Jad mentions that the problems of the youth increase when they cannot get married at a suitable age. Disappointment and despair overcome them, and then they deny their society and all that is around them. In fact, some of them may commit crimes and sins because of that, and hence, they destroy themselves and all that is around them.
Your Eminence Sheikh al-Muhtadi al-Bahrani, regarding this information, what is your opinion about the phenomenon of spinsterhood?
The answer: What these scholars have mentioned is true, but the researchers must study the hidden reasons for this phenomenon, which has never been a big problem in the history of Islam.
I ask: who attracts women to work in the common fields with men? The problem originates from the minds that are separate from the Islamic mentality and have been educated with Western cultures and have come back to manage the life of the Muslims according to what those cultures inspired in them. Those cultures have all the means to make people Muslims by name only while they are very far from Islam in their behaviors of solving their psychological and social problems and their political and economical crises.
Foreign films and serials undoubtedly have a great and dangerous influence on the phenomenon of spinsterhood. The films that have been produced in Egypt are not any less in their bad influences on Muslim societies than those that have been produced in foreign studios. The Egyptian libertine films and serials have played a serious role in taking Muslims away from their Islamic values and in destroying their moral principles. These films still affect the Arabic societies and serve the imperialistic plots there. Excessive dowries, denial of polygamy, encouragement of women to prefer divorce and spinsterhood in some way or another, justification of sins and family treason, and emphasis on the material aspects and indifference to the moral aspects in the marital life are Zionist goods that have been sold out to the public by the Egyptian films and serials. It is well-known that behind the cultural attack to corrupt the youth of the Islamic umma and to distribute the products of Zionist companies, like libertine films and other such things, are great foundations, abundant capitals, and hellish plans.
Of course, I am excluding the religious serials and good films that Egypt produces although, in comparison with the bad ones, they appear as withered flowers between huge thorns.
There is no doubt that spinsterhood has political, economical, and other reasons. The companies dealing with unlawful sex and its means are the first beneficiaries of deviations resulting from spinsterhood. The politicians of this material life and of sleepless nights also are beneficiaries, and they usually have authority over the media and culture. The reasons are interlaced and spinsterhood is one of the consequences of the great deviations of the umma.
As for the cure, it ought to be considered from four sides:
First, the state, which has the greatest abilities, can direct the culture of its people toward Islamic resolutions through schools, universities, and the media, especially through films and serials. It also has the ability to prevent economical foundations and establishments from exploiting spinsterhood by restricting employment of unmarried women in cabarets, ballrooms, and studios of libertine films and in their commercial requirements.
Second, charitable organizations can play a great role in resolving the problem of spinsterhood by collecting charities from good people and giving them to the youth whose poverty prevents them from getting married. These organizations can also make use of the successful experiment of collective weddings, as do charitable organizations in some Islamic countries, where they arrange one party for the weddings of hundreds of couples.
Third, Ulama’ and preachers play an important role in convincing society of the conception of the Sharia and the sunna of the Prophet (S) concerning the matter of polygamy and how a husband must be just to all of his wives equally. Explaining moral principles and emphasizing concepts like satisfaction, avoidance of selfishness and envy, contentment with the fate of Allah and His just determinations, regard for the afterlife, and management of worldly affairs according to reason and good morals will help the society do away with the problem of spinsterhood or limit it. What gives good news though is that when the temporary marriage (missyar), that has begun to find its way among the Sunni, is practiced according to its moral conditions, it will limit spinsterhood and secret debauchery; and if the temporary marriage of the Shia is also practiced according to its legal conditions, it will solve a great part of the problem.
Fourth, psychologists can play a great positive role in persuading society of the comprehensive resolutions of Islam if they first convince themselves of those resolutions and want, sincerely, to participate in resolving the problem.
Finally, I suggest forming a committee including notables of each of these four sides to study the problem in all its dimensions and then generate suitable solutions and cooperate in implementing these solutions.
Would you please show us the verdict of Islam towards the situations of the growing numbers of women who are divorcees, widows and spinsters?
Question: In our family there is a divorcee, and amongst our relatives there is a widow besides three spinsters. I see this state as irregular, though it is as a result of our society’s ignorance of Islam, which they construe as just praying, fasting, and some other traditional rituals. They have turned their backs on the verdicts of Islam concerning polygamy, temporary marriage, facilitating marriage, and avoiding the habits from the time of ignorance. Would you please show us the verdict of Islam towards the situations of these women?
The answer: The phenomenon of the large numbers of divorcees, widows, and spinsters is universal. In our Muslim societies, it is supposed that this painful phenomenon would be limited if we followed all the principles of Islam without preferring one to another as we like, but, unfortunately, most of the Muslims have missed this way!
Islam is clear in its position towards this phenomenon. We can notice this through the following points: First, Islam places certain conditions and limits for divorce, which cannot be executed easily.
Second, when a divorce takes place, Islam gives the option to a divorcee to remarry and not remain single.
Third, Islam has legislated the laws of polygamy and temporary marriage within conditions of justice and morality.
Fourth, Islam has facilitated the procedures for marriage with no strictness or difficulty.
Fifth, Islam has recommended people to treat these women with the utmost politeness, kindness, and respect and to feel and care for their sufferings. Islam has promised a great reward for this.
Sixth, wealthy people should establish centers and foundations to employ these women in works befitting their abilities, such as sewing, nursing, cooking, weaving, handiworks and the like, and then the products should be sold, and the profits should be given to the workers themselves, to help the orphans, to cure the sick, or to establish other charitable foundations.
Could you give some instructions for what remains of the life of a spinster who regrets being unjust to herself by turning down many earlier proposals?
Question: I was an unveiled girl at the university. I fed on the worldly cultures until I became self-conceited and thus killed my chance for happiness. One young man after another would come asking for my hand, but I kept refusing, wishing for the knight of my dreams to come, but he never did, or he might have been one of those who came but I could not discover him because of the mirage of my illusions and the facade of my wishes. Thus, I missed the boat of marriage and now I am one of the millions of spinsters. I regret, but uselessly. I have repented to Allah of what I have committed against myself. I do not know where I shall be after my death. I hope that girls and their parents might take a lesson from my case and refrain from complicating the conditions of marriage when a religious, high-minded young man comes asking for the girl’s hand. How long does man plan on living that he complicates this life for himself? Our Islam, the religion of ease, has emphasized religiousness and morality when selecting spouses because it sees in them a sure guaranty to achieve the rest of the conditions of happiness, which are just branches of these two conditions.After this foreword, my question is to ask for instructions for what remains of the life of a spinster who regrets being unjust to herself. Would you please answer me?
The answer: Dear sister, may Allah bless you! I pray to Allah to make your present and future better than your past and to recompense you for what you have missed with the best of that for what you wish as a reward from Him for your repentance, change, and loving heart that wishes goodness for others. I pray for you sincerely that you may defeat the obstacles in your way, and Allah will be with you in this life and in the afterlife if you are with Him.
I have read in your letter bitter sufferings and I feel sorry for your state. May Allah help your heart and damn that culture which has killed your happiness. I join my supplication and the hope and call of your supplication to warn Muslim girls of this predicament before they fall into the same error into which you fell.
Yes, there is no happiness save in going back to the pure culture of Islam. It truly is the culture of ease and bliss.
My instructions to you are as follows:
1. You should build your afterlife with every good deed.
2. You should spend your time with satisfying the needs of the believing women and guiding them to good and righteousness.
3. You should spend the rest of your life in spreading religion by every wise means, for example by publishing books, collecting donations for charitable projects, and the like.
4. Try to learn literary writing and giving speeches and practice them for the sake of Allah only and not to show off!
5. Always ask Allah to forgive you!
6. Adorn yourself with Islamic morals in every case!